By MIKE GRAMAJO
With 2013 North American Soccer League spring campaign coming to a close, week nine action saw the Atlanta Silverbacks hold on to their first place spot in the table while there is a three-way tie in second place, as the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Carolina RailHawks and Minnesota United failed to secure victory this weekend.
The RailHawks battled the Fort Lauderdale Strikers to a 1-1 draw in Lockhart Stadium on Saturday, leaving forward Brian Shriver to rescue the RailHawks late in the game to salvage a point, after defender Scott Gordon put the Strikers up in 37th minute.
Despite their season woes, the San Antonio Scorpions earned a convincing 2-0 victory against Minnesota United on Saturday at Toyota Field. United were entering week nine after defeating the Rowdies the week prior on the road, but it was the Scorpions who took their second victory of the season.
The Rowdies visited FC Edmonton on Sunday as they played to scoreless draw at Clark Stadium. The heavily contested match-up saw the Eddies go down to 10-men after defender Mallan Roberts picked up his second yellow card in the 52nd minute.
Here’s a closer look at this past week’s NASL action:
STRIKERS STALEMATE THE RAILHAWKS
The RailHawks avoided a shocking defeat to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday after forward Brian Shriver’s chip over Strikers goalkeeper Jeff Attinella equalized the game for the Carolina side who visited Lockhart Stadium on Saturday.
“First half we were very disappointing and we didn’t play well, the Strikers were a lot better than us and they wanted it more,” RailHawks coach Colin Clarke told NASL.com. “In the second half we came out so much better but it could have gone either way.”
Scott Gordon put the Strikers up 1-0 in the 37th minute after midfielder Manny Gonzalez’s free kick outside the box served Gordon with a perfect ball to head home. RailHawks midfielder Tiyiselani Shipalane orchestrated the tying goal as his through ball in the 80th minute set forward Shriver to score his league-leading sixth goal of the season.
The RailHawks are back home on Saturday as they host the Rowdies at WakeMed Soccer Park. As for the Strikers, they visit the Metrodome to battle United.
SCORPIONS REIGN SUPREME OVER UNITED
A full team effort led the San Antonio Scorpions to defeat Minnesota United, 2-0, at Toyota Field on Saturday as they edge closer to a third place spot in the NASL standings.
“It was an inspired performance from start to finish,” Scorpions coach Tim Hankinson told NASL.com. “We took a lot pressure in the second half but it is great how players just stepped up made key plays, good tackles and block shots.”
The Scorpions didn’t wait long to get on the scoreboard. Defender Blake Wagner put the Scorpions up 1-0 within the first minute after a United defensive error lead to Wagner to capitalize on a rebound shot. Forward Walter Ramirez doubled the lead in stoppage time after dribbling through the Minnesota defense, leaving the Honduran to shoot the ball towards the right corner for the 2-0 dagger.
The Scorpions sit with eight points in sixth place, however, they have a bye-week this weekend. Meanwhile Minnesota United look to get back into winning ways as they host the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday.
EDDIES AND ROWDIES IN SCORELESS DRAW
FC Edmonton and the Tampa Bay Rowdies were both in desperate need of a win, but the two sides could only manage to play to a scoreless draw.
The Eddies went down to 10-men after defender Mallan Roberts picked up a second yellow in the 52nd minute, giving the Rowdies nearly a full half of soccer with an advantage they couldn’t capitalize on.
“I’m very happy with the overall performance of my side,” Rowdies coach Ricky Hill told NASL.com. “This is a very difficult surface to play on, especially when it is wet, but I am quite happy that we were able to adjust to it and maintain possession of the ball.”
The draw, however, was a good one for the Rowdies as they extended an unbeaten run against FC Edmonton to eight games despite sitting one point below first place Atlanta Silverbacks. The Eddie have now gone two games winless in NASL play and have a tough challenge ahead as they visit the Silverbacks on Saturday.
What do you think of this week’s action? Do you see the RailHawks claiming first place next week? Do the Scorpions still have a shot to win the spring season? Can the Eddies turn things around?
Share your thoughts below.